In a fascinating study led by Michelle Duffy, police officers filled out a survey about how often their closest colleague undermined and supported them. Officers who felt undermined were less committed at work, experienced more physical health problems, and were more likely to take unauthorized breaks and be absent from work. Being undermined was a major source of stress.
But when the underminer was also supportive, things got worse. The officers experienced even lower commitment, had more health issues, and missed more work. It can actually worse to have a colleague who alternates between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than to work with Mr. Hyde all the time. When a colleague is a pure taker, you know what to expect, and you can devise strategies for minimizing your exposure and collaboration. But if that colleague takes in some situations and gives in others, it’s harder to avoid the relationship altogether, and it can be quite unpredictable. As Duffy’s team explains, “it takes more emotional energy and coping resources to deal with individuals who are inconsistent